We Take Feedback From Our Misogynist Customers Seriously: Intel Issues Pseudo-Apology for Gamasutra/ Gamergate Debacle

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So last week, misogynist gamer advocates GamerGate convinced Intel to pull its advertising from the gaming website Gamasutra, in order to punish Gamasutra for publishing a feminist opinion piece about gaming culture that they didn’t like. An entirely predictable Internet firestorm ensued.

Intel has issued a pseudo-apology for the debacle. Here’s what they said — and here’s what it sure as heck looks like they were really saying.

We take feedback from customers seriously.

Translation: We hate losing money.

For the time being, Intel has decided not to continue with our current ad campaign on the gaming site Gamasutra.

Translation: We hate losing money, and we have decided that misogynist dudebros spend more money on our products than the people who are fighting misogyny. This week, anyway. We are incredibly short-sighted, and have no clue about how public opinion on this issue is shifting, or how bad the word “Intel” is going to taste in people’s mouths a year from now, or two years, or five.

However, we recognize that our action inadvertently created a perception that we are somehow taking sides in an increasingly bitter debate in the gaming community. That was not our intent, and that is not the case.

Translation: We put our foot into something we had no clue about and didn’t do our homework about. Now that we’ve done it, though, we’re not willing to undo it, since we don’t want to anger the misogynist dudebros. (We have also never heard the phrase “intention is not magic,” and we think that not meaning to take sides with misogynist dudebros magically absolves of of responsibility for the fact that we did exactly that.) We don’t understand that it is literally impossible to not take sides in this debate. We don’t understand that refusing to act is supporting the status quo.

Alternate translation: We made a calculated decision to prioritize misogynist dudebros over the women who are harmed by them and their allies. That was totally our intent. We just hoped that nobody would notice. We completely understand that it is literally impossible to not take sides in this debate — we’re just trying to take those sides quietly, and without pissing anybody off. We completely understand that refusing to act is supporting the status quo. The status quo has been working pretty well for us, and we’re okay with it. We just don’t want to take responsibility for that choice.

When it comes to our support of equality and women, we want to be very clear: Intel believes men and women should be treated the same.

Translation: We think men and women should be treated the same — we’re just not willing to actually put any hard work into making that happen. Also, we think “treating men and women the same” somehow equals “listening to misogynist dudebros more than we listen to the women who are harmed by them.”

And, diversity is an integral part of our corporate strategy and vision with commitments to improve the diversity of our workforce.

Translation: We want our workforce to be diverse — we’re just not willing to actually put any hard work into making that happen. We have no clue about the factors that perpetuate sexism and misogyny in the tech world. Or else we do have a clue about it, and we aren’t willing to do anything about it — at least, nothing that might alienate some of our customers. It never occurred to us that women in the tech field might hear about this debacle and decide that they never, ever want to work for Intel. Or else that did occur to us, and we’re okay with it.

And while we respect the right of individuals to have their personal beliefs and values, Intel does not support any organization or movement that discriminates against women.

Translation: Intel totally supports organizations and movements that discriminate against women. We support organizations and movements that passionately hate women. We support organizations and movements that target women with hatred, harassment, abuse, threats, and worse, on a daily basis. We just don’t like thinking of ourselves that way, and we don’t want anyone to think about us that way. We think that just by saying, “We support diversity and oppose discrimination,” that will somehow magically make it true.

We apologize and we are deeply sorry if we offended anyone.

Translation: We don’t actually understand what the word “apology” means. In particular, we don’t understand that the word “if” renders it useless. We clearly did offend people, but we are unwilling to say so — even in the public statement specifically addressing those people. We don’t like the fact that people are angry at us — but we’re not willing to actually do anything about it.

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We Take Feedback From Our Misogynist Customers Seriously: Intel Issues Pseudo-Apology for Gamasutra/ Gamergate Debacle
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21 thoughts on “We Take Feedback From Our Misogynist Customers Seriously: Intel Issues Pseudo-Apology for Gamasutra/ Gamergate Debacle

  1. 1

    We apologize and we are deeply sorry if we offended anyone.

    If an apology contains a conditional modifier, especially the word “if”, or is limited in any way, it is NOT an apology.

  2. 2

    “If” in an apology puts the onus on the people offended. “If you’re such thin-skinned whiners that you felt offended by what we said or did, then we ‘pologize.”

  3. 3

    When I read this not-pology, I had a slightly different interpretation of the ending.

    We apologize and we are deeply sorry if we offended anyone.

    “In other words, we wish we hadn’t been caught. And here are some alligator tears for the irrelevant minority of you who freely chose to make yourselves feel bad about what we said and did.”

    There should be an “at the end of the day” somewhere in there, too.

  4. 4

    I started out with AMD chips (well, technically, IBM/Motorola chips back in my Apple days, but my first custom-built computer used an AMD Thunderbird), and I guess I’ll be going back to them. There’s been so little need recently for top-of-the-line CPUs for anything I do than I can totally be happy with AMD’s inferior top performance (but still good performance per dollar!).

    (I totally got the right tab this time!)

  5. 5

    When it comes to our support of equality and women, we want to be very clear: Intel believes men and women should be treated the same.

    I translated this a bit differently. I think they’re sneaking in the Libertarian definition of equality: “Sometimes men get harassed on-line, and women should be treated exactly the same. However, looking at the volume of harassment or the nature of the harassment would be Collectivist thinking so nobody should do that. Saying that nobody should be harassed is Censorship, so that’s completely off the table.”

    And, diversity is an integral part of our corporate strategy and vision with commitments to improve the diversity of our workforce.

    …provided the diversity hires are the “good ones”, who won’t ask us to make any changes to our corporate culture, which is already just fine the way it is. Also, if you haven’t noticed that this whole press release is meaningless fluff, we’ll give you an extra hint by tossing in the phrase “corporate strategy and vision”.

  6. 6

    And while we respect the right of individuals to have their personal beliefs and values, Intel does not support any organization or movement that discriminates against women.

    And yet…your actions line up pretty well with the desires of the hordes of misogynistic gamers of #GamerGate. Looks an awful lot like supporting a movement that discriminates against women. Just sayin’.

  7. 7

    We apologize and we are deeply sorry if we offended anyone

    Which is not, by the way, the same as being sorry for what we actually did!

  8. 8

    Uhm. By not continuing an already-active advertising campaign because of a cultural situation, aren’t you by definition taking a stance on the situation? It makes no sense. Obviously, if they wanted to stay out of it, they would simply ignore it and continue advertising. By releasing this statement, they just dove headfirst into a culture war.

    Honestly, it sounds like their apology is to the dudebros, not to the feminists. But they’re acting as if they support the dudebros. And then saying they’re doing neither?

    Maybe it’s a misprint and they’re saying that WILL continue advertising? Because that would certainly make more sense. But I guess that’s a longshot.

  9. 9

    Back when the news story about the Mozilla Firefox CEO donating in support of California’s Prop 8, I remember seeing this information:

    At Intel, 60 percent of employee donations were in support of Proposition 8. By contrast, at Apple, 94 percent of employee donations were made in opposition to Proposition 8. The opposition was even higher at Google, where 96 percent of employee donations were against it

    So … Intel may just be a conservative company in a liberal Silicon Valley community. And their support of anti-feminism may be more of the same.

  10. 13

    Argh, this is killing me. Why? I work at Intel. And we really are NOT a cadre of misogynist dudebros: it’s a lot better here than it was when I worked for the federal government. But we do have a large cohort of white guys of a particular age, because the company was founded in 1968 and expanded rapidly in California for the first several years. Apple is 9 years younger as a company, and Google is 30 years younger. Their populations reflect the times in which they were founded, as ours does. But Intel has gone to enormous lengths to recruit, support, promote and showcase women and ethnic minorities, with sexual minority support lagging behind somewhat.

    We have been discussing Gamergate and the advertising pullout on our internal forum, and opinions are vigorously mixed. A few guys (using their real names) really seem to believe the Gamergate version of events. One even accused the Leigh Alexander Gamasutra article of misandry (!) Some of the rest of us have pointed out the disproportionate hostility and abuse. I got to correct the “misandry” accusation with the clarification that criticism of male gamers is because of their behavior and not their maleness. But most people seem to want to just stay out of it, and have the company do likewise. In other words, privilege continues to rule the decision making, since the people being targeted don’t have the option of stepping away.

    Disclaimer: I don’t speak for Intel, ever.

  11. 14

    Well, this is fun.

    I just went to Intel’s website to tell them what I think of their decision. I found a form to contact their CR division, wrote my piece, clicked send, and what do I get? A 404 error.

    “We take feedback from our customers seriously”, indeed.

  12. 15

    Numenaster: Any chance you can speak ~to~ them on that forum? At the very least, if at all possible, send word to someone involved that no, no one is fooled or placated by “if we have offended” wording. People got wise to that sometime after Shakespeare. It just adds more grievance.

  13. 16

    Freemage, I have been one of the many people speaking up for a few days now. And the message you are conveying has definitely been gotten across, by me and others, and by the press articles that have been linked. We know the marketing team for CR is watching the discussion too. Our internal discussions are heavy on the angle of “How can we avoid making this mistake again”, it’s kind of what we do.

  14. 17

    Freemage, I have been one of the many people speaking up for a few days now.

    Numenaster @ #16: Thank you for doing that. I know that can be hard to do at your workplace, with people you have to see and work with every day. I also know that this is what’s going to change the culture — at Intel, and everywhere. So thanks.

  15. 18

    It’s been a really frustrating time with Adventures in Tech Sexism & Misogny(TM). This shit with Intel (fuckyouverymuch Intel) and now Microsoft’s CEO just had to join the party:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/10/09/microsoft_ceo_satya_nadella_says_women_shouldn_t_ask_for_raises_at_women.html

    From the article:

    . He told an audience that was assembled to celebrate women’s achievements in tech (an industry that has diversity problems in nearly every metric) that women shouldn’t ask for raises.

    ReadWrite reports that during a fireside chat-type discussion with computer scientist and Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe, he commented, “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise.” And he said that women who stay silent have an advantage. “That might be one of the initial ’super powers,’ that quite frankly, women [who] don’t ask for a raise have. … It’s good karma. It will come back.”

    (my ephasis above)

    I’m just floored that any public figure of any major company would have the gall to say “trust the system”. At an
    event that’s supposed to celebrate womens’ contributions and achievements in tech no less. I’m mean…fuck almighty!

  16. 20

    Numenaster: As Greta said, thanks. You’re fighting the good fight. I’ve added my voice to the complaints to Intel calling for a reversal of the decision. It won’t be mine alone that causes a change, but perhaps a sufficient volume can be achieved.

  17. 21

    One unexpected benefit of speaking up at work: I’ve met new allies who felt equally compelled to do the same. And our CEO actually talked about this subject during his quarterly business update meeting (an employees-only open forum where the main topic is quarterly financial results). The discussion thread is on pace to have the largest number of comments in the forum’s history. And Intel pulling our Gamasutra ads will not be the company’s last word on the subject. I don’t know what the NEXT word will be, but I know it will have a lot more thought behind it than the decision to pull the ads did.

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